TheRickshaw Run Himalaya

The Rickshaw Run Himalaya Guide

Forcing a glorified lawnmower 1000km over the highest roads in the world for a week is spectacularly ridiculous. It’s a properly difficult and remote adventure designed for a small band of seasoned, hardy Adventurists. So we’ve decided to turn up the stupid and make it even harder.

We’ve doubled the distance and added a shitload of sand. Behold the special edition one-time-only Rickshaw Run Himalaya:

12 days | 2000km | Himalayan Mountains | Thar Desert

Starting from Leh, you’ll laugh in the face of the current finish line in Shimla and continue south west to Jaisalmer in Rajasthan. From 5000 metres above sea level over icy mountain passes to roughly zero metres above sea level across the scorching desert.

You’ll be pioneering a new route of the Rickshaw Run. Our detailed topographical analysis has revealed a fair bit of it will be downhill, which could come in handy when your rickshaw breaks and there are no mechanics for 150 miles.

1. The New Un-route

START: Leh, Jammu and Kashmir (3,500m)

FINISH: Jaisalmer, Rajasthan (225m)

DISTANCE: 2,200km (ish)

The original un-route is now just the first leg of your mountain to desert adventure. You'll tackle around 1000km of remote valleys and seasonal high passes from Leh to Shimla. Big climbs, tiny roads hacked out of the mountain side with huge cliff-edge drop offs, possible snow and ice and spectacular views. That's when the roads aren't blocked by snow, landslides, animals or accident wreckage. The highest point is the Tanglang La pass which is a rather lofty 5,328 metres. This is justifiably described as the final frontier of the rickshaw because nobody else drives them up here. Ever. Except you.

About 7 days in you'll be somewhere around 2000m altitude, passing through Shimla as you cruise through the foothills of the Himalaya. From there you point your point your trusty shit box south west in search of sea level, sand and sweat. Choose Punjab or Haryana and transition through arid semi-desert plains. The Thar desert in Rajasthan will be waiting for you on the other side. It's known for shifting sand dunes, occasional strong winds (probably means sand storms) and as you may have guessed, it can get a bit toasty.

The 'Golden City' of Jaisalmer is your final stop; slap bang in the middle of the desert and a total contrast to the start line in Leh. It's dominated by sandstone architecture and Jaisalmer Fort, a hilltop citadel with 99 bastions. The finish line itself is in a massive Palace to make sure you round your adventure off in fitting style.

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2. Schedule

July 2021 Leh to Jaisalmer

  • 3rd July


    Optional pre adventure meet up for beers and three-wheel chit chat.

  • 4th July


    Test driving, rickshaw pimping, mechanical briefing and the launch party.

  • 5th July


    The Launch

  • 16th July


    Finish line & Party

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3. You're on your own

You are totally on your own. Not in a pretentious existentialist way; in a 'one wrong move and you're vulture food' kind of way. We don't offer support on the regular Rickshaw Run, but there are 1.3 billion helpful locals on hand whether you need it or not. In the Himalayas there are noticeably fewer people (about 1.3 billion fewer) and even less who have even seen a rickshaw, let alone know how to fix one.
This adventure is strictly for the seasoned adventurer. by that we don't mean a safari or a gap year backpacking. We mean proper unsupported endurance or overlanding events. If you've not got a big stupid adventure under your belt, why not try the original Rickshaw Run in India?
We recommend an insurance company with a high level of medical cover and watertight emergency evacuation plans. We like to make jokes about danger, but insurance isn't really a joking matter (have you ever been to the pub with an insurance broker?).

The Warning

Not only are you driving a very unsuitable vehicle on very bad roads in a very remote part of the world, you're doing this at an altitude that would give a mountain goat vertigo. Being this high and oxygen starved is detrimental to both you and your vehicle.
These are genuinely dangerous things to do. The website is written in a light-hearted fashion but you cannot overestimate the risks involved in taking part in this adventure.
Your chances of being seriously injured or dying as a result of taking part are high. Individuals who have taken part in past Adventurists' adventures have been permanently disfigured, seriously disabled and even lost their life.
This is not a glorified holiday, it's an unsupported adventure and so by its very nature extremely risky. You really are on your own and you really are putting both your health and life at risk. This is what makes them adventures.

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4. Paperwork

Driving Licence

To drive any vehicle in India as a foreigner it’s a legal requirement to have an International Driving Permit. So make sure you have this. We’ve also found that in India, rickshaws are classed as ‘light motor vehicles’ so legally you can drive them in India with a Category A or B Stamp in your IDP.
All travel insurance policies have an exclusion saying that if you break the law they have the right to deny the claim. This would usually refer to the local laws where the incident takes place, so you need to meet the licence requirements for the country you’re driving in in order to be covered by your travel insurance. Seems obvious enough but it’s always worth double checking with your insurance provider to make absolutely sure you’re covered. If your licence covers you under domestic law on your adventure, but wouldn’t cover you to drive that vehicle at home, your insurer could argue that you have a lack of experience driving that vehicle. It might be legal for you to whizz around in a Rickshaw in India on your licence - but maybe not in your country of origin, so it is entirely your responsibility to make sure your insurer will cover you with whatever licence you have.

Indian Visa

Many nationalities can buy this in advance to pick up on the border. More information on how this works and if you can use it Here

Travel & Medical Insurance

You'll need appropriate travel insurance that covers you for exactly what you're doing and exactly where you're going. We wouldn't scrimp on this one, we might make light of the dangers in our writing, but they're very real.

Inner Line Permit

This is required if you plan to go via the Spiti Valley Although it's optional, you might want go that way if you can, as it's quite simply the most adventurous part of one of our most adventurous events. The permit can't be applied for before you arrive in India as it can only be obtained in Himachal Pradesh and you will need help from a travel agent to get it.

Vehicle Deposit - £1000

To make sure we can have future Rickshaw Runs we take a vehicle deposit to make sure we can get it back in something resembling the condition we gave it to you in. The deposit is fully refundable and deductions will only be made if you fail to return the vehicle, if it is seriously damaged or if there are bits missing. If your vehicle doesn’t reach the finish line we will need to make deductions to recover it, which will not only reduce your returned deposit, but might delay its return (best to get it to the finish line yourself). The deposit will be paid by your team a couple of months before the launch.

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5. Fuel, Food and Lodging


We mentioned this is a remote part of the world right? Because the roads between the start and finish line are shut for at least half the year, there are almost no permanent features on this terrain.
Not much has changed in this respect since the ancient trade routes passed through here on the way to China.
The main source of food and accommodation is the 'Dhaba' roadside eateries, often little more than a tent with a daybed.

Your Rickshaw

Few locals up here have ever seen a rickshaw. While that doesn't mean they wouldn't be able to fix them, it does mean that spare parts are few and far between.
Fuel stops are very far apart. While you might be able to buy it by the bottle from passing locals you will definitely need to keep your jerry can filled for the longer stretches.

A word on the weather

A bit shit. Okay, so that's three words, but you get the gist. The weather is likely to be not good. Or if it is good, it's likely to be not good before too long. It will definitely get cold. It will very likely snow. There will almost certainly be rain.
Because of the aforementioned rain and snow, landslides and avalanches are fairly common around here, bridges and roads frequently get swept away. Generally, this happens in the off-season but you'll likely be delayed by the aftermath.
Sounds like fun eh?

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6. What you get for your money

  • The Rickshaw

    A 3-wheeled, 4-stroke air-cooled rickshaw, pimped to your own design with insurance and all the other necessary paperwork

  • Pre and post launch shenanigans

    Test driving, mechanical briefing, launch party and finish party

  • Some kit

    A jerry can and a few key spare parts plus the tools to change them

  • The adventure

    A week of some of the most underpant-stirring adventuring possible in a rickshaw

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7. Saving the world

Not only is the Rickshaw Run an industrial dose of adventure, it’s also about Saving the World. We ask every team to make their best efforts to raise a minimum of £500 for the official charity Cool Earth Anything above this can be raised for any other registered charity of your choice.

If you raise £1000 or more for Cool Earth you’ll be entered into the raffle with all the teams on The Adventurists adventures for a chance to win a money can’t buy trip to the Peruvian rainforest to see the work they do first hand.

Cool Earth works alongside indigenous villages to halt rainforest destruction. Local people stand to lose the most from deforestation but the most to gain from its protection, that’s why they are the forest’s best possible custodians.

All Cool Earth partnerships are community-owned and led.

By developing local livelihoods, their mission is to end the cycle of deforestation entrenching villages into further poverty. Creating strong, self-determining communities.


We need to save every rainforest in the world so future generations have somewhere to get stuck. Not because we’re tree hugging sandal weavers, but because the world would be shit without them. It’s not about the carbon off twatting, the point is rainforests are indescribably excellent. We don't just want to have adventures across this here planet, we also want to save it a bit too. We're working with the lovely folks at Cool Earth trying to not just save a tiny piece of the world at a time, but by saving the whole thing in one go.


The best way to raise these funds is through your friends and families, people you work with or anyone who's got a dirty little secret only you know about. We've found that the best way to collect these funds is through an online platform such as Virgin Money Giving as they make it easy for us to count the funds, the cash goes straight to the charities and also because it is possible for the charities to claim Gift Aid. Different charities can use different fundraising platforms in different countries so it's best to check with the charities which is best.


You've got until 6 weeks after the adventure to collect that cash, this means you get as long as possible to raise funds including the duration of the event and shortly after.


If you can't reach the target, unfortunately you will go to hell. Together with the charities we give you tips and resources to help and when the time to count up what everyone has raised comes about we will pester you somewhat, but we won’t set any dogs on you, or force you to sell your children. We will be very, very disappointed though and do a sad face at you.

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8. Contacts

+44(0)117 4224300

[email protected]

The Rickshaw Run


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